Remember "Sicko Cell"? Remember how we all huddled around forums and YouTube comment threads as if they were oil drum fire pits in an urban wasteland, trading rumours, speculating, stoking the flames? Remember Burial? The cloak-and-dagger romance of it, the sprawling, heartfelt interviews, the inept Sun campaign to unmask him?
Unknown does. As the press release for this producer's debut EP is at great pains to point out, Unknown is precisely that—anonymous, not a mugshot or biog to their name. Just a series of tracks, posted on YouTube and titled by number, which have garnered thousands of plays and invited a raft of (un)healthy speculation as to their progeny. In fact, there is very little substance to Unknown other than their unknown-ness; certainly not in the music, a strain of tepid post-dubstep house that invites only unfavourable comparisons: Jamie XX without the pop nous, Burial without the emotional intelligence, Four Tet without the imagination.
Of course, there's plenty of this kind of thing around at the moment, and perhaps you'd question why this particular release deserves such opprobrium. Well, it's the irony of it all. Given the painstakingly cultivated air of mystique that hangs around this mediocre music like the smell of hospital disinfectant, it's difficult not to read Unknown as an unwitting satire of the grim world we find ourselves in: one where a reluctance to engage is no longer a legitimate response to the internet's voracious interconnectedness; rather, it's a disingenuous shorthand for authenticity, a cynical strategy.
Unknown may do well to remember that there are in fact thousands of unknown producers out there—ones who use their real names, who tirelessly schlep their music around to blogs, labels and DJs, who broadcast their wares into the ether with as much force as they can muster. Why do they remain unknown? Well, sadly, some of them just aren't very good.
Buy Unknown - #001-#004 at
Tracklist: Unknown - #001-#004 A1 001